tolerance Tag - PaganSquare - Join the conversation! Tue, 23 May 2017 00:16:54 -0700 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Freedom of religion, religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue

Freedom of religion

Freedom of religion, and freedom of choosing religion [or choosing none], is one of the most valued freedoms for any human being.

The Russian Empire of the past was a country where the Orthodox Church was an official, State religion. It was not allowed to change religion and, more than that, people were punished severely for attempts to do so. Leaving the Holy Orthodoxy could lead to punishment, penalties, exile from the country, confiscation of all possessions, and even imprisonment.

I remember learning about the Soviet Union - my home country – by reading our Constitution and there was one very important thing:
- a citizen is free to belong to ANY religion, or belong to none.

This is a treasured freedom of living in a secular state.

This is a guarantee that some monotheist fanatics will not stone you because of “denouncing G-d” or however they word it, if you decide to part ways with your previous monotheistic religion.
This is a guarantee that people of all religions are equal before State.

Read more]]> (Tatiana Matveeva) Paths Blogs Fri, 19 Aug 2016 12:13:43 -0700
The Limits of Tolerance

Modern pagans pride ourselves on being a tolerant people.

In this we are wholly true to the ways of our ancestors, and it seems to me that we live up to this ideal often enough to claim it as one of the pagan virtues.

The dilemma arises when tolerance meets with intolerance, as the historic paganisms learned to their great disadvantage. Tolerance extended indefinitely must invariably end in ethnosuicide.

Tolerance may well be a virtue, but any virtue carried to extremes ceases to be virtuous. What, then, are the acceptable limits of tolerance? How much intolerance can we tolerate?

Read more]]> (Steven Posch) Culture Blogs Tue, 17 Nov 2015 15:54:18 -0800
Witches and other bad things

Halloween is this week.  The kids will be dressing up as ghouls and goblins, witches and monsters.  The world will be on a sugar high for the next week or so.  Mainstream America will be watching all the scary movies they can find and treating the paranormal as freakish. 

During a car ride with my mother, I was making conversation with her when she said she didn't like this time of year.  I said why not - thinking Fall is my favorite time of year and I adore the weather, the colors, the season.  She came out with "all the talk about witches and other bad things."  My immediate response in my head was - hey wait a minute.

My mother is 83 and a regular church goer.  With six of us, she has to put up with a lot of variety in beliefs.  Of my siblings, there are those who are like my mom and go to church but there are the outliers as well.  One of my sisters considers herself an athiest (I think) and one is a Pagan like me (though our beliefs vary greatly). 

You would think with this variety my mother would be used to the different beliefs but she isn't.  Again she's 83 and struggling with memory issues.  I cut her some slack - mostly. 

Diversity in the life means I cope with a variety of beliefs.  Working at a University means there are a lot of people with a lot of beliefs.  In my department, I've got hard core (but not offensive) Christians, Pagan esque, Jewish, and some I'm not sure of.  Since it is a public university, I like to keep my beliefs quiet.  I don't believe in mixing church and state, and since I work for the state essentially I like to keep beliefs private. 

I have to find the balance between what I'm willing to share and talk about and what I'm not.  I don't want to offend people but at the same time I'm not willing to listen to people make statements like my mothers. 

Respect is the key when working in the diverse mixture of people.  I respect their beliefs and let them deal with their beliefs while I respect my own.  Saying this, I have rocks on my desk (I have a thing for stones) dragons on my walls, Pagan affirmations posted on my desk. 

When I've been invited to Christian events, I say no thank you.  There's no need for me to go off on how I don't believe that way or get crabby with them for not comprehending my beliefs.  It was kind of them to think of me but I'm not interested - this is my standard answer. 

When I've discussed my tarot readings or other Pagan events, I am open and honest but not pushy.  I've had discussions about the moon and its affect on energy with some of the people I work with. 

I'd like to say I gave my mother an earful for disrespecting my beliefs but I didn't.  I don't believe she meant to offend.  I think she was talking about how Halloween made her feel along with the scary movies and modern take on what Halloween represents.  I don't think she thought about how it would make me feel to be lumped in as a witch and other bad things.  So this time - I cut her some slack.

Picture is by TJ Jahns

Read more]]> (Eileen Troemel) Culture Blogs Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:45:02 -0700
You can't please everyone

Since my last 9-part article here on my experiences at Pagan Spirit Gathering, I've had a big change in my life. I can't talk about most of that - sorry. What I can say is I've gained some deeper insight on the Samhain resolution I made last year about being less judgmental. I will remind folks, I say less judgy, because we're all human, but just trying to honestly walk in someone's shoes is hard for so many people to do. And I say that with the inclusion of the Pagan community.

There are notable Pagans who have spent time with me in person, people of whom I've at least made an attempt to let them get to know me and of course vice versa, at the very least on some base level of agreement, who harshly judge me. These are people who won't give me the time of day. People who, on one hand shout to the hilltops we need to be accepting of everyone, who won't even acknowledge my presence unless they are forced to. And even then, they do so grudgingly and while being back-handedly polite. Does it hurt my feelings? At this point in my life, not really. In fact, I developed a mechanism to cope with not being able to be everyone's friend/acquaintance back when I was a kid. Allow me to explain:

Until I was in high school, I did not have a single friend. None. Sounds crazy, right? That may be especially true to those who know how outgoing and hard-working I am. I had won the Trifecta of Loserdom: I was the new kid nearly every year, sometimes twice in the same year. I was the painfully obvious poor kid, wearing clashy outfits from thrift stores with dirty, unstylish hair and a lack of pretty things. And, I was the weird kid. Today, I'm certain I would be labeled ADHD, but back then, sudden outbursts, drawing on everything and walking around in the classroom for no good reason was just considered weird - especially for a girl who was book-smart. But, like teen rom-coms, I was also aesthetically pleasing underneath, I had developed young and was tall, and I just needed a make-over to become popular. (And yes, I did that by getting into modeling.)

When I wasn't outright ignored, in spite of my hard grabs for attention, I too was bullied unmercifully like many readers. No matter what I did, I didn't do it right. I have a long list of mean kids, girls and boys alike, who I sometimes wish I could run into at the grocery store as my awesome self, in the middle of yet another important phone call while scouring the aisles, just to prove to them I'm better now. I belong. Maybe that resonates with you, too. Brian S. Tracy K. Erica L. Brian W. Shawn O. Charleen D. Heidi H. Gina M. Keisha B. Tamara J. And so on. (It's a pretty long list.) I haven't forgotten you. I haven't forgotten your names. I haven't forgotten your faces. And I haven't forgotten how you made my life hell. That will never go away, but I just want you to know, if you even care, I'm better now. And, I would like to think in the 25-30 years since, I can at least sit at the table behind the cool kids' table. Have I earned that much yet?

The same goes to the "cool kids" of the Pagan community who, while they haven't physically assaulted me, have treated me in some of the same ways. Like children. And as someone who's been a part of the community for nearly 20 years, I'm saddened there are still the same types of behaviors going on. I'm different - I know that - but is that any reason to blatantly ignore people who talk to you, suggest things to you, comment how they see things a little differently? And if you do give me the time of day, it's only to criticize? To make general assumptions? To judge?

I will go ahead and list all the things that make me different from many Pagans I know, and then I'm going to write a list of things where we probably have some major similarities. I then invite you to go ahead and write whatever you think in the comments if the mood strikes you.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Pagan-Con-Pro.jpgNow I know full well, the very same people "who be hatin'" will come across this article as me being a whiny bitch, or narcissistic, or whatever. No, no and no. I'm writing this because I know I'm not the only one who feels they are experiencing the same attitudes, and yes, I'm calling out the attitudes for an adjustment. People are entitled to their own opinions, but being judgy when no one is being harmed is something I have no problem calling out. You don't have to like me, even when I invoke Pinkie Pie, but Jeeze Louise, it's pretty hypocritical to hate on someone who's different than you when you demand acceptance for yourself.

Read more]]> (Lori Dake) Culture Blogs Sun, 31 Aug 2014 08:00:27 -0700
Practice What You Preach!

Several years ago I was facilitating a spiritual discussion group at the Yellow Springs Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.  I was serving that congregation as their religious education director and one of the duties I took upon myself was leading this discussion group before we gathered for the weekly service.  There was a wonderful gentleman named Chuck who would often attend our discussions and sometimes attend the main service depending on the topic.  One Sunday morning after about a half hour of group discussion Chuck spoke up and addressed the small group of about eight or so at the spiritual discussion group with, “You folks talk about being opened minded and affirming of others yet in the course of this discussion you’ve insulted me several times.  I’m a Christian.  I’m a Fundamentalist.  I teach at a Baptist university, and I regularly attend a Baptist Church.  And I’m a Republican.  Some of you have used these terms like they’re swear words.”  After he spoke his mind there was a lot of back peddling.  Chuck attended these discussion groups because he valued the discussions and he attended the main service when he was able because he valued some of the topics presented.  On those occasions when I was able to preach at the fellowship he would often attend to hear me speak.  He was and is a good man.  He wasn’t the “enemy,” but he was someone who sought to understand others and dialogue for mutual understanding and respect.

But Chuck presented an important dilemma for Unitarian Universalism and also a dilemma that is pertinent to the Pagan community.  How can we advocate tolerance, acceptance and understanding while simultaneously causing alienation and marginalization?

Back in 2010 I attended a conference at Sojourners headquarters in Washington, DC.  Sojourners is an Evangelical Christian organization devoted primarily to social justice causes.  The conference I attended was focused on promoting education for collaborative faith based social justice programs and encouraged people to travel back to their local communities and organize faith based social justice programs.  The point of the training was to get conservative and liberal faith communities to talk to one another and focus on the social justice issues they can agree upon and work together to promote positive change.  When I returned to the Columbus, Ohio area I helped with some Immigration Reform events that were truly interfaith endeavors.  It was Immigration Reform that was a topic that could unite several very diverse faith groups together for common action.   It would have done no one any good to point fingers and shout, “Other.”  But together our small voices became a much louder voice.  I like to think we did some good by working together.  That training at Sojourners was a good opportunity for me and I value that experience.

I have engaged in several discussions over the years on Pagan e-mail lists, at various festivals, at meet and greets, and at other venues where Pagans have gathered.  Often these discussions have devolved into discussions where different groups of Pagans were labeled as “other,” and criticized for not being “Pagan enough.”  Not being worthy of the label.  I’ve grown tired of hearing about how someone is a “fluffy bunny,” or how someone isn’t Pagan enough because they don’t subscribe to the scholarship of some in-vogue academic or “big name Pagan.”  Is the relegation of another, or another group, necessary?  Or does it do more harm to the community? 

I don’t want to give the wrong impression that I think it is never permissible to be critical.  I think you can be critical and offer reflective criticism; however, it is the spirit in which that criticism is offered that makes a difference.

The dilemma of, “How can we advocate tolerance, acceptance and understanding while simultaneously causing alienation and marginalization,” is a dilemma seen internally between Pagans but is also reflected outward.  When I was in seminary, a United Methodist seminary in the Midwest, I often noticed Facebook threads by my Pagan friends about how Christianity hated homosexuality and their criticism of Christianity turned into outright hatred.  This was frustrating for me because I had several friends in seminary who were gay and open about their sexual orientation.  Additionally, several conversations centered around, “Christians hate us because they believe we’re going to hell.”  The truth is that these statements against Christians are generalizations.  Not all Christians are opposed to homosexuality and there are many gay ministers serving churches – sure this is a divisive element in some denominations but being hateful towards Christianity does nothing to support those gay clergy who are trying to make a difference.  Likewise, not all Christian denominations are opposed to Pagan and Earth Centered forms of spirituality.  When I was working on my chaplain residency program (clinical pastoral education) I found support from my supervisor, a Reformed Church minister, and my peers, two Episcopal priests.  I was even asked to present a didactic (seminar) on Paganism for the other chaplain residents.  This was at a Roman Catholic hospital.  It is an absolute fact that some Christian denominations oppose Paganism and believe that Pagans are condemned to hell and that homosexuality is sinful; however, this fact is not a universal because there is a growing majority of denominations who are much more tolerate and accepting of others.  Generalizations can be damaging.

I mention this dilemma because of the often-critical treatment that Christopagans experience within the community.  When I started blogging about Christopaganism on my blog I had a few people contact me privately about their “secret” interest in Christopaganism but they kept their thoughts private out of fear that they wouldn’t be considered Pagan enough.  I find this fear tragic in a community that values tolerance, acceptance and understanding.  It is a dilemma and one that I think is important we become mindful.

Recently, I found myself feeling like I was running through a gauntlet within a local Facebook group by a few members of the group who had a serious problem with Christopaganism.  Their problem was centered on their understanding of, “the Bible says this…”  What transpired was a litany of Bible passages they felt that condemned Paganism.  I responded that I didn’t feel it necessary to “proof text” with them and volley back with other Bible passages.  I responded that I didn’t feel the Bible was “inerrant” and that I believed it was written by people struggling to make meaning out of their world.  I mentioned that what was important was the hermeneutic one used to interpret the entire text and not taking various texts out of context to use as a “theological weapon” against another.    

What does it mean for Pagans if we become what we say we are not?  One does not need to embrace Christopaganism to dialogue about it for understanding.  What does it say if we become the type of community that expects tolerance from others without practicing tolerance?  This is the heart of the dilemma I presented. This same treatment I’m advocating towards Christopaganism should be offered towards other forms of Paganism different from one’s own.   As a community, Paganism is starting to mature.  We’re starting to “come of age,” and with that comes responsibility.  In life it is often common to give youth or adolescence a “pass” from time to time with the explanation of, “Well they’re young…” As a community we’re reaching a point where we can no longer be given a pass.  We need to practice the tolerance that we covet for ourselves and when we fall short of this, and we will, we need to acknowledge our shortcomings and keep trying. 


Read more]]> (David Oliver Kling) Studies Blogs Mon, 17 Mar 2014 17:56:24 -0700
Lessons of the Hierophant

For this months shadow card, we find ourselves working with the Hierophant, being represented by the Teaching card from the Snowland Tarot.

In this particular card, we see an owl standing before an open book resting on a tree stump.  His audience of forest animals seems attentive as he shares his wisdom while the snow gently falls around them.


The Teaching card, or Hierophant, is about what the title suggests – teaching and learning, in all of its forms.  It is about traditions passed down within families, learning in schools, churches (traditional or otherwise) or study groups.  It’s also about learning from life and what our experiences teach us, what the people around us can teach us, and how we are able to help others learn. 


Sometimes, however, we refuse to learn.  We are stubborn and we get caught up being comfortable in our own boxed up world, refusing to grow as people.  Perhaps we think that we know it all and have all of the answers so there is nothing left for us to learn.   We may offer our wisdom to people who don’t want it, forcing our beliefs and advice on them, thinking that we know how to fix everyone and everything.  Perhaps we feel as though we have nothing of value to teach others.  We may have an answer to a friends’ problem but are afraid of revealing the solution for fear of appearing ignorant.  These are our shadow selves emerging.  If we keep our minds wide open and willing to learn from individuals, schools, traditions, etc., imagine what doors can be opened up for us!  


Just continuously learning isn’t the answer though.  We have to retain the information and discern what works and what doesn’t instead of working on blind faith.  Not everything that we hear is going to be truthful (we all have different truths) or factual.  Blindly following rules, without considering the consequences, intolerance towards people or groups because the group mentality says that they are not worthy without doing any research on our own are perfect examples of the shadow as well.  We were gifted with judgment and it’s our job to apply that judgment and question what we are told.  So how do we work on this shadow?  We need to stay conscious of our thoughts and actions.   Here are a few ideas:


  • Ask if your advice is wanted before automatically giving it out
  • Research something that you have been wondering about
  • Take a class
  • Be a mentor to someone
  • Look for a mentor for yourself
  • Have a firm grasp on your morals and beliefs
  • Use discernment with what you read and what you are told


If any of these strike a strong chord with you, consider journaling about it.  Perhaps you can uncover something about yourself that you didn’t know previously.


You don’t have to do all of these this month.  Start slowly with only 1 or 2 ideas at first and then go on from there.  Of course, if you come up with something on your own that will help, trust that and go with it.  This is a learning process and takes awhile to change so be patient and gentle with yourself.


This month’s affirmation – I am open and tolerant in learning new thoughts and ideas. 


I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season and I will see you in 2014!! 




Teaching card from Snowland Tarot by Ron & Janet Boyer


Read more]]> (Machelle Earley) Culture Blogs Thu, 05 Dec 2013 16:18:59 -0800
Pagans are Human too. b2ap3_thumbnail_RELIGIONES.png

Pagans are human too.  Sometimes I have to remind myself of this.  The latest kerfuffle in the wider Pagan community leaves me surprised and yet not surprised all at the same time.  I like to think that Pagans, as a group, are better than this but obviously we are not.

When a person, prominent in another religion, leaves that religion to become Pagan, do you cheer?  Do you proclaim it loudly from your blog, twitter or other social media outlets?  Do you feel satisfaction? Do you cheer them on because obviously they made the right choice? Do you discuss it continually, stewing over it, celebrating it, etc?  I don’t and I hope you don’t either.  Such changes are hard enough without the hype of unknown others.

So why do the opposite it when a prominent Pagan leaves the community? Why vilify them?  Is your belief in yourself and your path so weak, so small that their choice leaves you hurt or angry?  I've been surprised over some of the comments I've seen over the recent departure from the Pagan community.  Hence the reminder, Pagans are human too.  But what I want to ask is:  where is the famed Pagan tolerance? Why is the following of one’s heart good in one situation and bad in the other?  How can you expect others to be tolerant of us, when we do not do the same?  If all paths have the same destination in the end, then why strike out?  We've all known those in other religions that still fall in the “good people” column, so why the belly aching?

How does this differ from someone coming out as gay?   The reactions of some Pagans I’ve seen remind me of those who are vehemently against being gay.  Pagans often trip over themselves trying to offer support for these people.  Coming out as other-than-Pagan certainly shouldn't be any different.  It is a matter of following one’s heart, of becoming who they are, of finding whatever it is that makes them whole or that makes them want to be better.  If converting to another religion gives them a sense of peace, then they should receive support for doing what is right for them.  It is a personal choice...the key word here is personal.

If anyone’s conversion leaves you hurt or angry, then you need to take a closer look at yourself and your path.  If you need someone of prominence to validate your belief system, then maybe, just maybe you too are on the wrong path.

Read more]]> (Melia/Merit Brokaw) Culture Blogs Wed, 06 Nov 2013 08:52:57 -0800